Madagascar Deadly 60


Madagascar

Wildlife series. Steve encounters gremlin-like aye-ayes and Madagascar's most ferocious carnivore as he searches the vast island for contenders for the Deadly 60.


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Transcript


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My name's Steve Backshall.

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Wow!

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This is my mission to find the Deadly 60.

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That's not just animals that are deadly to me,

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but animals that are deadly in their own world.

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My crew and I are exploring the planet...

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and you're coming with me every step of the way.

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This is Madagascar.

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It's a vast island in the Indian Ocean,

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off the east coast of Africa.

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Everything that lives here is just a little bit special.

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Even the trees, like these mighty baobabs,

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are weirder than you find them anywhere else.

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But when it comes to the wildlife, it's so unique

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that most of it isn't found anywhere else on the planet.

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As a vast island separated from Africa,

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Madagascan animals have evolved in isolation for thousands of years.

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And they come in some surprising shapes and sizes.

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We'll be travelling right across the country,

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from the dry forests in the west to the rainforests of the east.

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Two very different habitats, each with their own wacky, weird

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and sometimes death-dealing wildlife.

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# When I say jump You say, how high

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# I ain't never seen nobody get so high... #

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We begin in Kirindi, a remote camp famous for a predator

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that is truly one of a kind.

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A mysterious beast, neither a dog nor a cat,

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it stalks around these forests and bites the faces off its victims.

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And it's called the fossa.

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Exhausted after a long day travelling,

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we've just unpacked the gear when we're instantly called into action.

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Just sitting down to have dinner when someone shouted the magic word

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we've all been wanting to hear... "Fossa".

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Somewhere over here is Madagascar's largest carnivore

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and it's just been wandering around these huts.

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This is very weird, not how I expected to have my first encounter

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with the most feared animal in Madagascar.

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But...it's somewhere in here.

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'Then, from across the camp, a shout.'

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Fossa!

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'It's been spotted.'

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Hello? You see?

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'The race is on.'

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Oh, look at that. Yeah, yeah, I see.

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I just got fierce eye-shine coming back off it.

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'The fossa has a long, lithe, elegant form.

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'But its ferocity gives it the power of an animal many times its size.

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'This is my first time face-to-face with a fossa, and suddenly,

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'I'm not sure if I want to be this close.

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'Fossae will take on prey at least as big as themselves,

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'and she's clearly not frightened of me.'

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This is such a rare sight, we are so lucky.

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And I think she's heading towards...

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She's going to head towards the garbage, the rubbish tip.

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And look at that!

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'As she leaves, she drags scent glands around her bottom

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'along the ground, so other fossae will know she's been here.'

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And that's the path to the rubbish.

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She's heading off that way.

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'She disappears off into the darkness and vanishes.

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'Has she given us the slip?'

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Is there somebody checking out the other path,

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in case it doubles back?

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'It's all hands on deck, we really want to find that fossa.'

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(Oh, look at that.)

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'Just as we thought, she's at the rubbish pit.

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'Not even remotely bothered by the sound of our noisy generator.

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'To find out more about these rare animals,

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'scientists put radio collars on some of them.

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'And you can see one around this female's neck.'

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This maybe seems like a weird place to encounter a fossa.

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They're known as being ferocious hunters and killers.

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But they're not stupid.

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If they get the chance of an easy meal, then they'll take it.

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And right here, this rubbish tip is full of protein-rich food

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and also the cockroaches that feed on it.

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And right now, all she's doing is saving herself the energy

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of having to hunt.

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And now she's heading off into the thorn thicket,

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and I don't think I can follow her through there.

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It's much too dense.

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I can't believe we got our first glimpse of a fossa!

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'But it's late, so we call it a night.

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'I' m desperate to see more of this mysterious hunter

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'before we put them on the Deadly 60.

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'So we'll head out tomorrow to track them down in the daylight.

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'We all wake early, keen to get out on the search for those fossae.

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'But first of all, we have to deal with some rather cheeky neighbours.'

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Boing!

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This is why people come to Madagascar.

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Lemurs just wandering around all over the place.

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Look at this lot!

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Oh, look, one's about to go into your room, Johnny.

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Oh, it's Charlie's room.

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Look at this! Just totally fearless.

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Look, he's in Charlie's room.

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Ah, he just ran out this way!

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You cheeky monkey!

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What are you after, eh?

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Ah, ah, ah...

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HE LAUGHS

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Lesson number one -

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never leave bananas in your room. That's what they were after.

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'As well as brazen brown lemurs passing through camp,

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'we also found another type of lemur - the sifaka.

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'With a comedy spring in its step. Get a load of this!

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# I like to move it, move it

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# I like to move it, move it

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# I like to move it, move it

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# Ya like to move it... #

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'Sifaka are awesome jumpers,

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'leaping up to ten metres between trees.

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'But they have to be, they're the favourite food of our fossae.

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'So, back on the trail of our predator,

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'and we pick up a clue there might be one close by.'

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Wow!

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There are some sifaka in the trees around us.

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And the little call...

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SIFAKA CALLS

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..is an alarm call because they've spotted a fossa.

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And the fossa is actually out here somewhere...

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..trying to hunt them.

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'The lemurs are on high alert,

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'terrified their fossa foe could be silently hunting them.'

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There's a mother with her babies, understandably worried.

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It could be the fiercest predator in Madagascar,

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around here anywhere.

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She's got a youngster, but she herself

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would be an easy meal for a fossa.

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'And this is how our fossae hunt.

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'Even up in the trees, a sifaka isn't safe.

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'If caught in the fossa's sights, she'll have to leap for her life.

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'The fossa rockets up the tree,

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'using its curved claws like crampons.

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'They bound and bounce through the branches, fearless,

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'locked onto their target.

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'The fossa's tail helps provide balance,

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'and its strong legs power it as it leaps from branch to branch.

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'Pound for pound, the fossa could be

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'the deadliest carnivore on the planet.'

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(Oh, wow!)

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'It seems the local sifakas had good reason to be worried.

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'A fossa's been spotted right in our camp.

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'And it's a different animal to last night.'

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The fossa's just found a nice patch of shade under one of the huts

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that we're sleeping in.

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(Look at those teeth!)

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'Lounging in the shade,

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'there's not just one, but two fossae.'

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There's two fossae, both male.

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I think actually, they're brothers.

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They will sleep together, hunt together, fight together.

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So all the lemurs around here

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have got an awful lot to be worried about.

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That's two sets of very, very sharp teeth,

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and two quick, agile, supreme hunters.

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Oh, look at that yawn!

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That's just shown off the teeth that make the fossa so special.

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'The fossa's teeth have dagger-like canines

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'and bone-crunching rear teeth.'

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The underside of the paw is turned up, it has soft pads

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and sharp claws...

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..which are perfect for running up trees.

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Also, the back feet can turn almost completely around,

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which allows the fossa to also run down tree trunks.

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It means he's a master, both on the ground and in the tree tops.

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'These are Madagascars most bloodthirsty animals.'

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They may not look all that deadly, sprawled out in the shade here,

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but actually, what it shows is that they can be this comfortable

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in front of me. Their cocky, confident attitude.

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They know they're in charge.

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It's just the kind of attitude you expect from a predator

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that's at the top of the tree and has nothing to fear from anything.

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'And as they begin to wake up,

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'they start licking their lips

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'and coming a little bit too close for comfort.'

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The fossa, vicious hunter of Madagascar...

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..is on the Deadly 60.

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'A deadly acrobatic assassin,

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'the fearless fossa is a lemur's living nightmare,

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'killing by using its bone-crunching jaw

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'to bite their faces off.

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'Fossa is on the Deadly 60.

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'We're leaving the dry west coast and heading east,

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'to the lush jungles,

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'home to some of the world's most colourful creatures.'

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For a reptile lover, Madagascar is absolute paradise.

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And for one lizard in particular -

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the chameleons.

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This is a male Parson's chameleon,

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and it's pretty much as big as chameleons get.

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And this...

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is a dwarf chameleon.

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It's the smallest chameleon on the planet,

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one of the smallest reptiles.

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And way smaller than the insects that this bad boy would eat.

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'That difference in size would be like you meeting a person

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'five times as tall as a giraffe,

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'and weighing as much as ten elephants!

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'Although they can look very different,

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'chameleons all use the same lethal killing techniques.'

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I'm hoping to show you now why I think chameleons have to go

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on the Deadly 60.

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'The most famous thing about chameleons

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'is that they can change the colour of their skin.'

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What people don't know is, the chameleons will change colour

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much more quickly in response to their emotions.

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To fear, to anger, and to try and protect a territory.

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'So chameleons might look pretty,

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'but just like miniature dinosaurs, when they get cross,

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'they really show it.'

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When two males come face-to-face, they put on a remarkable display

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to try and frighten the other one off. I'm not going to

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put two chameleons together to fight,

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but I can show them their own reflection.

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And hopefully, that'll get the same response.

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Let's give it a try.

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Yes!

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Oh!

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Didn't like that, at all!

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He nearly broke my mirror.

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'The mirror looks like a rival,

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'and this male's message was clear -

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'back off.

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'Let's see how a different male reacts.'

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Look at that gape, look at the mouth.

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'So, male chameleons will stand their ground and put on a show

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'to protect their patch.

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'But it's bug hunting that makes them really deadly.

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'Chameleons eat insects.

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And keep their boggly eyes peeled in all directions,

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'looking for a juicy meal.'

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But the chameleon's most deadly skill is all down to how

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it catches its insect prey.

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And one of the fastest tongues in the whole animal kingdom.

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The tongue can be longer than its body,

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it has a sticky tip that can envelop an insect,

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and it can fire out in 1/125th of a second.

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'Don't blink or you'll miss it.'

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Oh!

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Ah!

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'Imagine catching your dinner

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'by launching your tongue across the school canteen.'

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Yuck!

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A climbing, clambering,

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insect-catching, colour-morphing chameleon,

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with his lightning-fast tongue...

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..is on the Deadly 60.

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Messy eaters, aren't they?

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'Chameleons are feisty reptilian fighters,

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'with 360 degree vision...

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'..and equipped with one of the fastest tongues

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'in the animal kingdom.

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'There's no doubt about it, chameleons are deadly.'

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I've never been to Madagascar before.

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But you'd think, that having spent half of my adult life

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in tropical rainforests,

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there ought to be something here that's familiar to me.

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Well, actually, that couldn't be further from the truth.

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In fact, the vast majority of species found

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in Madagascar's rainforests are what's known as endemic.

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That means they occur here and nowhere else in the world.

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Which is quite exciting, really.

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'Species like this peculiar, and aptly named,

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'giraffe-necked weevil...

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'..the glorious, howling indri lemur...

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'..and this scary scuttling spider.'

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Wow!

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'All these animals are only found here in Madagascar.

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'As is our next deadly creature.

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'But finding it isn't going to be as easy.'

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The guys have told me that somewhere in this very tiny area here,

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is one of the animals that I most want to see while I'm in Madagascar.

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However, it is about as well camouflaged as any creature

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on the planet.

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So, I'm going to see if I can find it. I know it's here somewhere.

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Let's see how long it takes me.

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Oh, it's gone.

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This is crazy.

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'After ages staring at the same clump of branches,

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'I think I might have finally spotted it.'

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OK, Johnny, what I need you to do,

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I need you to frame up on that portion of tree there.

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-OK.

-Can you see it?

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No.

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OK, let's try zooming in

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right where my finger is.

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Can you see those eyes?

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All I can see is leaves.

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-Just there, see where my finger...?

-Oh, yeah.

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OK, and zoom back out.

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-Have you got it?

-Yeah.

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This is a leaf-tailed gecko.

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See if I can make him move a little bit.

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And then you will see him.

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That's the tail there.

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At this time of day, they kind of... Oh!

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The leaping leaf-tailed gecko.

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It takes a lot to surprise me, particularly with reptiles.

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I actually think that's the most beautiful lizard I've ever seen.

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The most incredibly camouflaged.

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Look down the bottom lip, where it's touching my watch strap.

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It's got kind of tassels hanging off it

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that look just like moss or lichen.

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And all down the body and legs and those incredible digits,

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are just covered with little tassels that make it blend in

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perfectly with the tree bark.

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You are wondrous.

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He's like a living tree.

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This time of the day they're usually sleeping.

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It's very much a...

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nocturnal hunter.

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But you can see, they can be pretty mobile when they need to be.

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And, if you're a little cricket or something, scampering up the bark,

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you would never see him coming.

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Get close to those jaws,

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it'll be the last thing you ever did.

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Wow!

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They actually have a limited ability to change their skin colour.

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Not as fast or dramatic as chameleons,

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but enough that, if they have a favoured tree,

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they can make themselves match it...

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even more closely.

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You never know,

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he might change so that he looks like my face after a while!

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He couldn't be that ugly!

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Well...

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do you reckon insects will see him if he stays here?

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I think I might be spoiling his camouflage a little bit.

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Come on, back to the tree. Go where you're more at home.

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'The gecko lies low to avoid the attentions of daytime predators.

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'Then they use the same secret skills,

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'an impressive leap and sticky toes,

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'to head up into the canopy at night to ambush their prey.'

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He is an absolute miracle.

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And to insects, one of the deadliest creatures

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in the Madagascan forests.

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The leaf-tailed gecko is on the Deadly 60.

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'Leaf-tailed geckos are the ultimate

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'masters of disguise.

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'Even their eyeballs are camouflaged,

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'and with their super-suction feet,

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'they've earned a place on the Deadly 60.

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'Madagascar is probably the world's centre for weird wildlife.

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'But we've saved the most bizarre beast till last.

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'This country has one deadly animal, so difficult to find

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'that we've had to come to a zoo's breeding programme to see it.

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'The creature we're here to see

0:21:400:21:43

'could be the strangest looking animal in the world.

0:21:430:21:46

'We quietly set up an infrared camera

0:21:480:21:50

'that can film in complete darkness

0:21:500:21:53

'to try and get our first glimpse of this very unusual predator.

0:21:530:21:57

'As a tropical storm beats down on the roof overhead,

0:21:580:22:02

'we've just got to wait.'

0:22:020:22:03

Come on, come on.

0:22:060:22:09

Here he comes.

0:22:120:22:15

Oh, my goodness.

0:22:170:22:20

That is one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen.

0:22:210:22:25

And I've seen some real animal oddballs in my time.

0:22:250:22:29

This is an aye-aye.

0:22:320:22:34

It's one of the weirdest creatures in the world.

0:22:340:22:39

'And another contender for the Deadly 60 list.'

0:22:400:22:44

Look at those great big, long weird fingers.

0:22:460:22:49

The reason the eyes are glowing like that is,

0:22:510:22:54

they have a very special design to them that allows them to see

0:22:540:22:57

really well in the dark.

0:22:570:22:59

It's a reflective layer at the back of the eye

0:22:590:23:02

that makes it much more easy for them to see in low light.

0:23:020:23:06

Right, I think we'll give him a little while just to settle down,

0:23:090:23:12

then I'm going to go in and get better acquainted.

0:23:120:23:15

How weird was that?!

0:23:170:23:19

'This gremlin-like creature is totally unique.

0:23:210:23:25

'Take a look at this.

0:23:250:23:27

'It possesses one of the most

0:23:280:23:29

'specialised weapons in the natural world.

0:23:290:23:32

'And that's what makes it deadly.

0:23:320:23:34

'But that's not a dagger it's carrying around with it,

0:23:340:23:37

'that's actually one of its fingers.

0:23:370:23:40

'This skinny twig-like finger drums against a tree trunk,

0:23:410:23:45

'while super-sensitive ears are tuned in to the rustlings

0:23:450:23:48

'of any potential prey hiding inside.

0:23:480:23:50

'If there's a meal to be had,

0:23:520:23:53

'the aye-aye will find it.

0:23:530:23:56

'Once locked on, it unleashes its awesome chisel-like teeth

0:23:560:24:00

'that make short work of the bark,

0:24:000:24:03

'before poking in that deadly digit and hooking out a juicy meal.'

0:24:030:24:07

OK, so we're going to make our way into this cage.

0:24:190:24:21

I just hope it'll be OK with us going in there.

0:24:210:24:25

Dead quiet.

0:24:260:24:28

'I' m dying to get a closer look at that strange hunting technique,

0:24:300:24:33

'and hoping we can show it to you.'

0:24:330:24:35

There he is, there he is. He's in here.

0:24:370:24:40

There, Johnny, up there, look.

0:24:400:24:42

Can you see him?

0:24:440:24:46

This is such a spooky experience.

0:24:570:25:01

You almost totally forget that you're in a zoo,

0:25:010:25:03

with this crazy goblin.

0:25:030:25:06

Crikey!

0:25:090:25:11

I think she thought my finger was...

0:25:110:25:14

something edible, for a second there.

0:25:140:25:16

When it comes down to it,

0:25:160:25:18

they are pretty fierce.

0:25:180:25:20

The first zoologists that are ever discovered the aye-aye

0:25:240:25:28

really didn't know what to do with it.

0:25:280:25:31

It's such a mish-mash of animal parts.

0:25:310:25:34

It's got a great big, long bushy tail,

0:25:340:25:36

so they thought it might be a squirrel.

0:25:360:25:39

It also has long incisor teeth, like a rodent, that never stop growing.

0:25:390:25:44

So they kind of thought that it was like a very peculiar squirrel,

0:25:440:25:48

but it's not at all.

0:25:480:25:50

It is a lemur, it is a primate.

0:25:500:25:52

But the strangest one I've ever seen.

0:25:520:25:54

'Perhaps that's the weirdest thing of all -

0:25:540:25:57

'as a primate, she's distantly related to you and me.'

0:25:570:26:00

The aye-aye is a very specialised feeder.

0:26:020:26:06

If you look at that front foot, you'll notice

0:26:060:26:09

that the middle finger is kind of all weird looking.

0:26:090:26:14

It has no flesh, no muscle.

0:26:160:26:18

It's just one long jointed pencil-like digit.

0:26:180:26:22

(Look what he's doing right now.)

0:26:250:26:27

Just using that finger to dig out

0:26:310:26:33

little grubs that are beneath the bark.

0:26:330:26:37

That is crazy!

0:26:390:26:40

With their superhero hearing...

0:26:510:26:54

..that crazy fish-hook finger...

0:26:550:26:59

..the aye-aye is truly one of the greatest,

0:27:000:27:03

weirdest insect hunters in the world.

0:27:030:27:07

And the strangest animal on the Deadly 60.

0:27:110:27:15

'The remarkable aye-aye.

0:27:170:27:18

'Equipped with night vision,

0:27:180:27:20

'huge satellite-dish ears that give it superb hearing,

0:27:200:27:24

'and the world's freakiest finger!

0:27:240:27:27

'All in all, a grub's worst nightmare.

0:27:270:27:31

'Join me next time as I continue my search for the Deadly 60.'

0:27:320:27:36

Up there, the silverback.

0:27:360:27:37

The chimp's going after them. No way!

0:27:420:27:46

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:020:28:05

E-mail [email protected]

0:28:050:28:08

Steve and the team embark on a truly incredible adventure across the vast island of Madagascar. Many of the creatures they meet cannot be found anywhere else in the world. From gremlin-like aye-ayes to Madagascar's most ferocious carnivore, Steve has some unique encounters as he searches for contenders for the Deadly 60.


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